THE INTERRUPTERS (NR) A convicted murderer, a gang leader’s daughter, and a former prisoner make an unlikely trio of “Violence Interrupters” in this documentary about a program for Chicago’s CeaseFire, an organization that seeks to heal what it considers to be the city’s disease of violence and prevent its further spread.
MARGARET (R ) Doing the right thing becomes even more difficult when you aren’t sure what it is in this drama about telling the truth. When straight-A student Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) becomes the indirect cause of a fatal bus accident, she lies to the police and assuage the driver’s (Mark Ruffalo) guilt and her own. Matt Damon also co-stars as Lisa’s concerned teacher.
1911 (R ) Jackie Chan directs and stars in his 100th film appearance with this historical war film about an early 20th century rebellion against China’s Qing Dynasty.
REAL STEEL (PG-13) Hugh Jackman stars in this adaptation of a Richard Matheson "Twilight Zone" episode about a former boxer who becomes the trainer of a robotic pugilist.
RESTLESS 2 stars (R ) A black-clad, teenage funeral crasher (Henry Hopper, son of Dennis Hopper) falls unexpectedly in love with a quirky, free-spirited girl (Mia Wasikowska) with a grim secret. Milk director Gus Van Sant strives to emulate cult films like Harold & Maude, but this twee romance ignores the opportunities for dark humor in its downbeat situation, while also avoiding the deeper emotions in its premise. — Holman
BEYOND THE MYTH (NR) Libby Sherrill’s documentary explores the “breed discrimination” against bull terriers for allegedly dangerous behaviors. Sat., Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m. $8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
DEEP RED (1974) (R ) Cinefest presents a rare 35 mm print of Dario Argento’s horror film about a pianist threatened by a serial killer. Oct. 8. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
EVIL DEAD II (1987) 4 stars (R) Ever wonder how Bruce Campbell became a cult actor? The actor lies with this Sam Raimi’s sequel/remake to his breakout horror flick The Evil Dead, with Campbell bringing slapstick energy to the role of Ash, the victim of a band of malevolent ghouls.Splatter Cinema. Tue., Oct. 11, 9:30 p.m. $8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
DETOUR (1945) 4 stars (R ) Director Edgar G. Ulmer claimed to have shot this highly effective film noir in six days for $20,000. A touchstone film for how to make a suspenseful character study with practically no budget. Dark Streets and Dangerous Dames: Film Noir. Wed., Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m. Emory Cinematheque. 205 White Hall, 301 Dowman Drive, Emory University. Free. filmstudies.emory.edu/home/events/film-series/emory-cinematheque.html
KIDNAPPED (NR) A middle-aged couple and their teen daughter face a home invasion from a gang of masked hoodlums. Oct. 3-9. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
BRIGHTON ROCK (NR) In England of the early 1960s, a sociopathic young gangleader (Sam Riley) marries a young woman (Andrea Riseborough) who saw him murder a rival. This adaptation of the Graham Greene novel features Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Andy Serkis.
BUNRAKU (NR) This martial arts-based action film stars Josh Hartnett and the Japanese actor/singer Gackt as mysterious strangers who take on Ron Perlman’s crimelord.
COURAGEOUS (PG-13) Four law enforcement officers struggle with family and faith issues after a tragedy strikes in this drama from the makers of the Christian film Fireproof.
DREAM HOUSE (PG-13) When Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) and his family find out that their new home is the site of an unsolved murder, Will joins forces with neighbor Anne Paterson (Naomi Watts), to uncover the truth. Rachel Weisz co-stars as Libby, Will's wife and mother of their two daughers.
50/50 3 stars (R ) Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a self-effacing, 27 year old radio producer struggles with a cancer diagnosis with the dubious support of his freaked-out girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) and his horndog pal (Seth Rogen). JGL’s understated performance movingly captures his role’s personal crisis, but as with 500 Days of Summer, his acting doesn’t redeem the tame, familiar film that surrounds him. Anna Kendrick and Anjelica Huston co-star. — Holman
MACHINE GUN PREACHER (R ) Gerard Butler plays an excon/biker who experiences a religious conversion and becomes the gun-toting defender of orphans in the Sudan. Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster helms this biopic of a real guy.
WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? (R) Anna Faris flips her Rolodex back twenty ex-boyfriends in this comedy about what can happen when you take love advice from a magazine article.
ABDUCTION (PG-13) In Taylor Lautner’s breakaway role from second-choice heartthrob (Team Jacob, anyone?) to lead action star, his character fights off attacks from mysterious hit men. Lilly Collins also stars as Lautner's neighbor and only ally, along with Michael Nyqvist (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
DOLPHIN TALE 3D (PG) Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and Harry Connick Jr. star in this heartwarming movie about a dolphin whose tail is destroyed by a crab trap, and the doctors and supporters who join efforts to save her.
KILLER ELITE 2 stars (R ) A Middle Eastern sheik coerces a retired special ops agent (Jason Statham) to kill a trio of murderous British SAS officers. Meanwhile, another former military operative (Clive Owen), in cahoots with a star chamber of British conspirators, tries to thwart Statham’s team. Taking a premise reminiscent of Spielberg’s Munich, first-time feature filmmaker Gary McKendry can’t sort out the supporting players and hidden agendas, so coherence gets killed off early on. Statham still serves as a great movie tough guy, while Owen makes the most of a confusing role. — Holman
MONEYBALL 3 stars (PG-13) Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, manager of the cellar-dwelling Oakland A’s, who gambles on recruiting undervalued, inexpensive players based on the “sabermetrics” championed by a meek analyst (Jonah Hill). Co-written by Aaron Sorkin based on Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book, Moneyball crunches numbers to make an entertaining underdog sports movie, with Pitt and Hill serving as a terrific comedy team. Philip Seymour Hoffman goes underused as the A’s uncooperative coach, and director Bennett Miller’s stabs at moody seriousness weigh down a story that wants to be a feel-good movie. — Holman
THUNDERSOUL (PG) Jamie Foxx narrates this highly praised documentary about how band leader Conrad “Prof” Johnson turns a Houston high school band into a funk powerhouse in the 1970s, and how the former students reunite to pay tribute to their mentor. It sounds like Mr. Holland’s Opus with sooooouull!!!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (PG-13) During World War II, an experimental serum turns 90-lb asthmatic Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into super-soldier Captain America, who devotes himself to stopping the high-tech arsenal of The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Captain America flags in its attempt to evoke the same kind of matinee-era thrills as the Indiana Jones flicks or Johnston’s own 1991 comic book adventure, The Rocketeer. Evans makes an appealingly earnest hero, but the more ripped he gets, the less interesting the role becomes. — Holman
THE CHANGE-UP Fast-talking player/aspiring actor Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and uptight family man/lawyer Dave (Jason Bateman) swap bodies when they simultaneously pee in a fountain and wish for each other's lives. Did we really need another body-swap comedy? At first glance, no. But writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover) avoid bogging down the story with overly earnest self-reflection. The Change-Up maintains just the right level of tastelessness, and Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin succeeds in breathing new life into one of Hollywood’s favorite film formulas. — Debbie Michaud
COLUMBIANA (R) “Star Trek’s” Zoe Saldana stars in this action film as a young woman out for revenge on the drug dealers who killed her family. A friend of mine suggested this be called Panty Assassin.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN 2 stars (R) In ye olde Hyborian Age, pumped-up warrior Conan (“Game of Thrones’” Jason Mamoa) seeks revenge against a “shadow lord” (Avatar’s Stephen Lang), who plots to conquer the world with a magic mask and the sacrifice of a beautiful monk (Rachel Nichols). For about an hour, you can have fun with Conan the Barbarian as a “good-bad movie” by reveling in the violence, over-the-top behavior, unintelligible dialogue and imaginative production design. After nearly two hours, the lousy writing, incoherent action scenes and fantasy epic clichés will crush your spirits. — Holman
CONTAGION 4 stars (R ) A virulent disease spreads across the globe, beginning with Gwyneth Paltrow’s corporate traveler. Can intrepid CDC workers (including Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and a scene-stealing Jennifer Ehle) find a cure? Director Steven Soderbergh brings both a compelling cinema verite style and an A-list cast to what’s essentially a throwback to a 1970s disaster movie. After an agonizingly creepy first half, Contagion loses some of its focus with some oddly sharp critiques of rumor-mongering bloggers and the Chinese. — Holman
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is down in the dumps after his wife of two decades Emily (Julianne Moore) shtups a co-worker (Kevin Bacon) and asks for a divorce. To cope, he binges on vodka cran at a swanky local bar where he meets eurotrash Casanova Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who promptly douches him up and sends him whoring to fill the void left by a loving wife. We get the same old mumbling, asexual Carell, a shining moment from Marissa Tomei as a wacky lay, and a belligerent 13-year-old who thinks he's got it all figured out (there's even an awkward graduation speech for moralizing about crazy, stupid love). Really, it's kind of a crazy, stupid mess. — Michaud
THE DEBT 3 stars (R) Oscar-winner Helen Mirren and the suddenly-ubiquitous Jessica Chastain effectively play the same role, separated by decades, in this espionage drama about three Israeli intelligence agents who share a secret about a 1966 mission in East Berlin. Shakespeare in Love director John Madden makes a comeback with this twisty espionage drama co-starring Tom Wilkinson and Ciarin Hinds (with Martin Csokas and Avatar’s Sam Worthington as their younger selves). (This actually opened Wednesday.) — Holman
DRIVE 4 stars (R ) Ryan Gosling delivers a macho star turn as a taciturn Los Angeles mechanic and stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for high-risk heists. Quirky Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn won Best Director at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for this terrific, moody film noir update that has all the L.A. alienation of Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. Gosling, who keeps cool even with patrol cars and police helicopters on his tail, captures the soft-spoken magnetism of Steve McQueen. — Holman
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK 3 stars (R) A young girl (Bailee Madison) visits her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) at the spooky New England mansion they’re trying to restore, only to discover that tiny, hostile creatures live in its walls. Guillermo del Toro produced and co-wrote this adaptation of a 1973 made-for-TV movie, and director Troy Nixey gives a Hitchcockian flair to the set pieces. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark lacks the richness of del Toro’s original films like Pan’s Labyrinth but works as a creepy-crawlie mood piece. — Holman
FINAL DESTINATION 5 3D (R) In the fifth iteration of the franchise’s familiar plot, a group of young people survive the crash of a suspension bridge, only to discover that, having cheated death, they’re doomed to die in outlandish ways.
FRIGHT NIGHT 4 stars (R) This new version of the 1985 action-comedy adds a bit of logic and finesse in this franchise reboot. Buffy and Mad Men writing alum Marti Noxon gives distinct voices to each character and director Craig Gillespie crafts a horror movie that has more “umph” than your average scarefest and more nail-biting moments than some recent action flicks. For those new to Fright Night, expect a full-throttled action comedy that bares fangs as a suspenseful horror movie. — Ed Adams
THE GUARD 3 stars (R) A whoring, drug-abusing Irish police officer (Brendan Gleeson) makes a particularly mismatched buddy with an African-American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) trying to thwart a team of drug dealers on Ireland’s coast. Gleeson gives a zesty, Falstaffian performance as “the guard,” an aggressively witty, middle-aged hedonist distracted by his reawakening conscience. Writer-director John Michael McDonagh (brother of In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh) offers all set-up and no follow-through, with a plot that resorts to predictably self-conscious dialogue and redemptive shoot-outs. — Holman
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 4 stars (PG-13) Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) lays siege to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as Harry Potter and his pals close in on the means to overthrow the magic noseless fascist. The eighth, final and shortest of the Harry Potter films superbly blends nonstop action scenes with effective emotional grace notes that draw on the franchise’s decades-long history. Daniel Radcliffe’s intensity as Harry helps anchor the film in reality while director Daniel Yates frequently clear, uncluttered visual approach improve on J.K. Rowling’s original novel.—Holman
THE HELP 2 stars (PG-13) In Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s, a white would-be journalist (Emma Stone) attempts to enlist African-American housekeepers (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) to write about about Southern race relations from their point of view. In adapting the bestselling novel by Atlanta's Kathryn Stockett, writer/director Tate Taylor retains too much of the book's sprawling plot spends too much time trying to establish The Help as a feel-good Southern comedy-drama like Steel Magnolias. The film conveys the African-American characters' anger and captures plenty of winning details about the South, but uses Bryce Dallas-Howard's manipulative, racist socialite as nearly a scapegoat for Southern racism. — Holman
I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT (PG-13) Further complicating the strain of an advancing career and full family life, Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is struck by a handsome new coworker, played by Pierce Brosnan. Christina Hendricks and Greg Kinnear costar.
THE LION KING (1994) 3 stars (G) In Disney’s animated version of Hamlet, a young prince confronted by his father’s ghost must confront his duplicitous, murdering uncle. Of course, it’s also an Elton John musical populated by animals of the African plains, freshly converted to 3D, but the Shakespeare comparison holds up. The Lion King 1 ½ is the franchise’s equivalent to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. — Holman
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS 4 stars (PG-13) A frustrated screenwriter (Owen Wilson) with an unsupportive fiancée (Rachel McAdams) vacations in Paris and discovers that, at the stroke of midnight, he can travel in time to hobnob with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Woody Allen’s most joyous and satisfying film since the early 1990s finds big laughs in its whimsical premise, gently satirizing the Lost Generation as much as it venerates them. Plus, Allen carries the film’s ideas into wiser areas than you might expect. Hey, this guy’s pretty smart. — Holman
ONE DAY (PG-13) Adapted by David Nicholls from his novel of the same name, this film follows the love and friendship of two 1988 college graduates (Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) by revisiting them on July 15 for two decades.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER 2 stars (R) Paul Rudd plays a genial dimwit who couch-surfs with this three neurotic sisters after serving a little jail time. Rudd’s guileless hippie complicates the lives of the self-absorbed Manhattan intelligentsia, but despite a great cast (including Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Coogan and Adam Scott), the film has the glossy sheen and contrived plotting of a Hollywood rom-com. Despite being one of Hollywood’s most likable actors, Rudd seems too smart to make a credible dumb guy. — Holman
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 4 stars (PG-13) James Franco plays a geneticist whose flawed Alzheimer’s cure creates a superintelligent chimpanzee named Caesar (in a stunning motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis), who leads his fellow apes to take up arms in San Francisco. Rise delivers the best extended “breakout” sequence since Toy Story 3 and Serkis’ Caesar provides one of the year’s most sympathetic performances of any species. This thoroughly entertaining reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise lays groundwork for potentially intriguing sequels. — Curt Holman
SARAH’S KEY (PG-13) In modern-day Paris, a journalist (Kristen Scott Thomas) finds her life becoming entwined with a young girl whose family was torn apart during the round-up of Jews in 1942.
SENNA (NR) This profile of the Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna is one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the year.
SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA (G) An ambitious young golfer (Lucas Black) finds himself stranded in Utopia, Texas, in this Christian drama starring Robert Duval, Melissa Leo and Kathy Baker. The premise sounds a little like Pixar’s first Cars.
SHARK NIGHT 3D (PG-13) A group of college friends find their leisure time on a salt-water Louisiana lake disrupted by some ravenous party-crashers with conspicuous teeth and dorsal fins. Fans of violent horror films should take the PG-13 rating as a red flag.
THE SMURFS The tiny blue creatures found their way back on the big screen, this time in 3D. The magical Smurfs are forced to flee their perfect world as they are being hunted down by the evil wizard Gargamel. Their frantic escape magically leads them to a world wholly different from theirs; New York City. In between dodging yellow cabs, befriending a New York couple and fleeing from an evil cat, they must find their way back into the world where they belong.
SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (PG) Robert Rodriguez jump-starts his Spy Kids franchise with a new cloak-and-diaper team that must prevent a villain called the Timekeeeper (Jeremy Piven) from wreaking havoc. Not pre-screened for critics, the film takes place in “4D,” which includes 3D glasses and “AromaScope” scratch-and-sniff cards. Hey, the last Spy Kids movie was 3D in 2003, so maybe smelly movies will be the next big thing. — Holman
STRAW DOGS (R ) An L.A. screenwriter (James Marsden) moves back to his Southern hometown with his young wife (Kate Bosworth), only to encounter escalating hostilities with the locals. The Contender director Rod Lurie adapts the notorious Sam Peckinpah/Dustin Hoffman vehicle from 1971.
30 MINUTES OR LESS 3 stars (R ) An underemployed pizza delivery guy (The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg) gets strapped to a bomb and blackmailed to steal a fortune by two trashy ne’er-do-wells (Danny McBride and Nick Swarsdon). McBride plays a predictable version of his arrogant redneck character, but Eisenberg finds a great onscreen partner in Aziz Ansari as the pizza boy’s best friend and highly reluctant accomplice. Disappointing compared to previous slobby summer comedies like Superbad, the film at least has more laughs and energy than Horrible Bosses or The Hangover Part 2. — Holman
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON 2 stars (PG-13) Big-rig robot Optimus Prime (the voice of Peter Cullen) and the righteous Autobots discover that the 1969 moon landing secretly discovered a spacecraft from the robots’ home planet, which could hold the means for the evil Decepticons to conquer the Earth. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) whines about the challenge of finding a job out of college. Director Michael Bay’s third giant robot film is sexist, bigoted and homophobic some of the time, along with being garish and vulgar all of the time. But Dark of the Moon also features breathtakingly intricate and destructive action sequences that look awesome in 3-D, so give the devil his due. — Holman
WARRIOR (PG-13) Directed by Gavin O'Connor, Warrior depicts two brothers, a Marine veteran (Tom Hardy) and an ex-fighter-turned-teacher (Joel Edgerton), who each return to the mixed martial-arts ring and end up on a collision course. Hardy might be the biggest draw after his breakout role in Inception and upcoming turn as roided-out Batman villain Bane in next summer's The Dark Knight Rises.
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